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How Paramount+'s Halo Series Honors The Franchise On Multiple Levels

Master Chief in Halo
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Halo is the next video game franchise to get an adaptation, and while we know a solid amount about the upcoming Paramount+ series, a major question still lingers with many fans. Video game adaptations, and adaptations in general, aren’t always as faithful to the source material as they can be, which will always create a fear that the upcoming work won’t do justice to previously existing material. I’m happy to say that Halo doesn’t only do justice to the video games, it honors the franchise on multiple levels. 

I was fortunate enough to screen the first two episodes of the upcoming Paramount+ series, and as a long-time fan of Halo, I’m impressed. Whether you’re a diehard fan who reads multiple novels about the franchise's lore, someone who plays the games or just someone looking for great sci-fi, this show is going to be a treat. With that said, it will especially be delightful for fans, as there’s plenty of evidence in these first two episodes this series is on track to be one of the best Paramount+ shows on the platform. 

An Elite in Halo on Paramount+

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Fans Get The Sights, Sounds and Imagery Of The Games

The bare minimum for a video game series or movie is to nail the iconic visuals and sounds fans know from the franchise, and sometimes even then, studios will still try to drastically change the look of a character like Sonic, resulting in fans going wild. Fans can breathe easy with Halo, as this show does its best to recreate the weapons, vehicles, characters and Covenant aliens of the games. I can’t imagine it’s easy to make Elites or other Covenant types (as seen in the Halo trailer) look realistic in a live-action series, and the end result looks damn good. 

The same is true of the vehicles, weapons and ships featured in Halo. What’s better, I think, is that none of these aesthetics are used as like “Oh wow, a Pelican” moments for the audience, they’re just there. Fans will love just casually seeing their favorite in-game weapons just chilling out on tables and the various iconic sounds sprinkled throughout. There’s one sound noise in the pilot that specifically made me geek out as a fan, but I’ll keep it a surprise for those to know exactly what I’m talking about when they hear it. As mentioned, it’s the bare minimum a video game adaptation can do, but Halo passed with flying colors.

A City in Halo on Paramount+

(Image credit: Paramount+)

The Show Goes Deep Into Halo’s Expanded Lore

I’ve played almost every Halo game in the franchise (I skipped out on the Halo Wars games), and while I’d say that made me well-informed ahead of screening the first two episodes of Paramount+'s Halo series, I quickly learned there was more to the story. Much to my surprise, the show doesn’t just jump level by level through the first game; it actually pulls material from the books and deep lore of the series. It’s not so deep that fans will feel out of sorts, though if anyone starts to question whether certain events and scenes mentioned are really part of the franchise, I’ve already done the leg work to confirm they are indeed. 

To be clear, that’s not at all a bad thing. In fact, I was thrilled to find Halo adapted works that have a bit more depth than a first-person shooter’s single-player campaign might have, and that there were things I didn’t know about the Halo franchise that I could read into. For those who are well-read on the lore, take solace in knowing that there are familiar locations, characters and more in this series. There are, of course, slight tweaks, but nothing I think those in the know will have huge problems with, based on what I saw.

Master Chief in Halo

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Master Chief Is Made More Captivating, Without Compromising The Character

I love Halo, but I’ve long maintained that Master Chief is one of the most boring main characters in video game history. There’s a narrative reason for this, of course, as the various mechanics that make him a superhuman elite fighting force who is calm in the face of almost certain death also make him a bore at all the fancy dinner parties. It doesn’t change the fact that Chief is dry from time to time, but I can say Halo does a good job of making Chief captivating while not compromising the character. 

A big help is that Master Chief is often surrounded by captivating characters, all of whom bring additional energy scenes when the main character is keeping his calm and quiet nature. To his credit, Pablo Schreiber plays Chief as good as it’s done. Even the movements he makes are on point. I’ll also say that there are some interesting elements to the story that certainly make the character a bit more nuanced and enhance the character. 

Master Chief with his helmet off Halo

(Image credit: Paramount+)

The Helmet Removal Isn’t A Big Deal

Halo went ahead and announced ahead of the series that Master Chief would remove his helmet, which some might see as a big deal. It’s often stated that Master Chief doesn’t remove his helmet, and his face is never shown. The problem is that’s not completely true, and while we’ve never seen a full-face reveal in the games, we’ve seen glimpses of his face and certainly helmet removals. There’s no reason Master Chief can’t have his mask off in his free time, so it’s only natural he’d have it off outside of battle. 

I’ll say that ultimately, Master Chief has his helmet on when it matters. Over the course of two episodes, it truthfully felt weirder for me to see the helmet on in non-combat situations than when I saw Pablo Schreiber’s face on the screen. If this is the biggest hesitation anyone on the fence has with the Halo series, consider this a non-issue.

Cortana in Halo

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Halo Is A Breath Of Fresh Air In Sci-Fi All Viewers Will Enjoy

If it isn’t clear by everything I said above, I was incredibly impressed by the first two episodes of Halo. It’s visually spectacular with pulse-pounding action paired with a nuanced story that goes beyond that of the video games. It goes without saying that fans will be pleased with what’s shown early on, and I’d wager a few more casually interested viewers (especially those just looking to see the latest in a long list of upcoming video game adaptations) will find themselves hooked should they give it a chance. I can’t wait for other fans to see it and for what’s ahead for the show. 

Halo premieres over on Paramount+ (opens in new tab) on Thursday, March 24th. Anyone interested in viewing needs to pick up a Paramount+ subscription, so now is as good a time as any to give the platform a whirl if you haven’t done so already.

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.